Hannah Loy, a researcher at BBC Wales, writes:
I was wondering if you know of anyone who has, or had, female jazz relatives from the period of jazz from 1919-1939. There were a lot of female bands on the touring ‘dance band’ circuit. These include: The Stanley Melodists, The Irene Davies Dance Band, Hilda Ward’s Lady Syncopators, Gwen Rogers’ Musical Dolls, “Dicky” Dixon (syncopated piano player), etc.
The earlier women we have found range from Natalie Spencer (a British pianist who played with the Southern Syncopated Orchestra in 1919), Gwen Rogers & Her Musical Dolls (an all – female band playing regularly in the 1920’s), Clare Deniz, (a pianist born in Cardiff who played with Ken Johnson’s band in Soho before the war), Louisa Crawford (a ragtime performer and the first British woman to record with African American jazz musicians – stage name Sadie Johnson, born Louisa Marshall) and Lily Jemmott (another pianist from Cardiff who performed under the stage name ‘Spadie Lee’ and was born as Lilian Louisa Jemmott).